The Birth of Jesus Christ
Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
I’ve always loved good birth stories. One of my brothers (the 5th of 6 children) came into this world rather quickly on a September day. Our parents maroon Toyota Camry was a faithful stick shift car. On this particular day, however, the passenger door would not open. After having 4 previous children, my mom was very much aware that this baby was coming soon. Her specific instructions to my dad were, “I need you to run in and tell them I need a stretcher - tell them not a wheelchair - I need a stretcher.” My mom, pregnant belly and all, maneuvered over the stickshift, got to the driver’s door and found that the nurses had listened to my dad’s instructions to...“Bring a wheelchair.” They got her to the door of the hospital, got her on the stretcher, covered her with a sheet and got her to the elevator. My mom recalls someone saying, “Quick we need to get her up to…” To which my mom said, “The baby is here. Can someone tell me if it’s a boy or a girl?” Jaws dropped and no one answered her. She asked again, “Can someone tell me if it’s a boy or a girl?” My dad finally stuttered, “It’s a boy.” My brother was born just outside the elevator, minutes after arriving at the hospital.
I love the account of the birth of Jesus.
His mom, Mary, was engaged to marry Joseph (v. 18)
Side note: If Joseph recounted this story, I wonder if he said, “I thought I was just going to marry Mary. I was content enough for a quiet married life to a good woman. But God’s purpose for our marriage was to nurture, protect and shelter His plan of salvation for the entire world. His very Son. I still think sometimes, ‘God, why me?’”
They hadn’t come together and she was found to be pregnant from the Holy Spirit. (v. 18)
Her husband (man she was engaged to), Joseph was a just man AND unwilling to put her to shame (grace) = RESOLVED to divorce her quietly. (Resolved to break off the engagement). (v. 19)
I Imagine: Mary and Joseph bantering back and forth as they recount this story.
Mary: “Yeah, that was a tough time for us. Just because the angel appeared to me and I rejoiced in God’s prayer of salvation didn’t mean I didn’t have to face Joseph.”
Joseph: “God was working in both of us to show us His plan as we needed to know it. But the hurt and feelings of betrayal were real. I didn’t understand what was going on behind the scenes.”
Joseph considered these things. (v. 20)
He did not take them lightly. He thought carefully about them. Was this quiet time with God? Was he in prayer, perhaps? How troubled was he? Was he pouring out his heart before God?
Considered: He took time to think, reflect and be intentional. He understood that the actions he took next were weighty.
AS he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream (v. 20)
To behold: appreciate, catch on (to), comprehend, conceive, decipher, discern, get, grasp, intuit, know, perceive, recognize, register, see, sense, understand...in other words...here is the revelation...here is the encounter.
I wonder: (Were his eyes already on God/heaven or did God lift his head to see?)
The message: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t FEAR to take Mary as your wife. (v. 20)
Before God called Joseph to obedience (to a pretty risky and scary task), He reminded Joseph of his identity and likely was alluding to the plan of salvation that Joseph would have been familiar with. Joseph, son of David (the man after my own heart who wasn’t quite the one, but who you’re descended from), don’t FEAR to take Mary as your wife. HERE IS THE PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE. (v. 20)
"For that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." (v. 20)
Note that the characters involved in the birth story of Jesus include the trinity and ordinary human beings: An angel of the Lord (v. 20), Jesus Christ (v. 18), the Holy Spirit (v. 20), Mary and Joseph (v. 18).
"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (v. 21)
The meaning of Jesus’ name is: “To deliver” or “rescue.”
The meaning of Jesus’ name is also the purpose for His life: “You shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (v. 21)
Secondarily, Joseph YOU shall call His name Jesus. You are to be the father (the protector, the teacher, the nourisher of the Savior of the world). The purpose for Jesus’ life and Joseph’s life is pretty clear here.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (v. 22 which references Isaiah 7:14)
This fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy states that it will be a virgin.
Why the virgin birth? Because Immanuel, God with us, had to be a work of God. This was not a work of Joseph or Mary. This was not man's (humanity's) doing, but God's.
Man (humanity) could not have conceived this plan of salvation. However, Mary and Joseph WERE faithful and obedient partners in God's plan.
Thought: I read (on Priscilla Shirer’s Instagram account) that Priscilla Shirer once asked Anne Graham Lotz, “How do you get a ministry?” Anne’s response: “You don’t. God brings it to you.”
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him (v. 24)
Note: Joseph’s faith is displayed in that he took immediate and complete action. What God said/revealed was enough for Joseph and superseded any of the grief, suffering, trials, and risk he was sure to face.
So what? Food for thought…
1. What area of my life seems to be ordinary that perhaps God wants me to pray He will use for His greater purpose/kingdom (i.e. Being a student/classmate at school, a teammate, a daughter, a sibling etc.)?
2. Is there a situation in my life that God is calling me to display both justice and grace? How will both of these things be present in the way I handle this situation?
3. When going through a trial, do I tend to move too fast (and just take the bull by the horns), or move too slow [just decide that it will all work itself out]? OR do I stop and consider (with intentionality, sincerity and the gravity of the situation) and talk to God, asking for His wisdom, and asking Him to reveal Himself through His Word?
4. Once I know that God is calling me to something (through His Word) etc., how immediate is my action? Give examples...
a. Usually immediate
b. I can be wishy washy
5. Do my plans/priorities/privileges (things I want) for my life give way first to God’s purposes and priorities? Journal about things that are currently submitted/surrendered and those that are not...
Merry Christmas, Tap girls! -Miss Joy